Thursday, February 12, 2015

DNA - Winning!

did Ancestry DNA in 2011 and it's never really helped me with anything. Well, it has shown me a few distant distant cousins that I can figure out our common ancestor(s). But, between incomplete trees (or no tree) plus no response to an emailed inquiry, it's been just "Meh." Either no one related has tested or there just aren't many cousins out there.

For a long time, there's been this guy, Ron W.,  that has been ranked a "Very High" match to me, but his tree is sparse and showed no common surnames. We communicated a little, but didn't have much to go on.

Last summer, I decided to dig around in his tree a bit looking at women missing surnames to see if I could figure them out and find something in common. Did one woman, but found nothing common. Did another named Mary Ann whose husband was Christopher Hocker. I found the undertaker's record for her adult daughter Martha and it showed Mary Ann's maiden name - Phillips!  The 1880 census said Mary Ann was born in PA and showed her parents as being born in England. I sent Ron the info and said "Maybe this is our link, I have Phillips born in England too," and left it at that.

A couple of weeks ago, practicing my "just keep looking - dumb luck happens" philosophy, I went on Genealogy Bank thinking about early 1800s marriages of Phillips family members in Philadelphia. Imagine my delight when I found a February, 1830 marriage of Mary Ann Phillips to Christopher Hocker and - get this - it said she was the daughter of William Phillips of Frankford. That was my 5X great-grandfather's name and residence! (The name Hocker didn't ring a bell so many months after I originally found it, and remember, back then I didn't even know about William, so even had I found it, it had little meaning.)

I searched other Ancestry trees for the Hockers and found a guy that listed Mary Ann's maiden name as Fritz. I wrote him a note asking where he got that. A few days later, he told me his wife had a shoebox of papers which may be where it came from.  He sent me a document of a court case where Mary Ann's grandchildren were fighting over property left them by her daughter, Martha, their aunt. (Still no bells were ringing.)

That same day, I decided to add Mary Ann to my Ancestry tree as an unconfirmed daughter of my William Phillips and see what popped up hint-wise. Her daughter's funeral record showed as a "hint," but no bells rang in my head yet. 

Later that night, I was perusing hints from other peoples' trees for her, and there was the tree from the guy who had just sent me the court document, not a surprise. But, right under him was Ron W's tree - DING DING DING!!  I couldn't believe my eyes!

With our close DNA match, that pretty much confirmed she is Richard's sister. I sent Ron the news and the court case - Ron's grandfather was the plaintiff of that case. 

It is an amazing document. It lists other bequests from Mary Ann and her daughter to the grandchildren - including "silver marked W.M.P.," most likely William M. Phillips. There are  some deeds listed as relevant to the case. I race to my computer to find and read them with my fingers crossed.

One deed of 1893 (Mary Ann's death year) starts out "William Phillips Sr. of Germantown after making his last will & testament dated November {illegible} Mary Ann Hocker {gibberish},"  then goes on later with "The said Mary Hocker (that's Mary Ann's oldest daughter) named in the will of William Phillips Sr aforesaid subsequently intermarried with Edw Williams and died intestate..." then it's illegible again. Holy Moley!

Wait...the Register of Wills said there was no file for him. Since the deed online is so hard to read, I called the City Archives to see if better copies can be made and they said it was possible. Hopefully that will lead me to the correct probate file.
I also looked back at the 1850 Census that I suspected was William, still wondering if it's him. Head of household was a wealthy woman named Mary A. Burt, then was an Eliza Burt. Next was William, an old lady Ann Doal, then a family named Hecker. OMG, not HECKER! The enumerator spelled it wrong or it was transcribed wrong.

It was actually Mary Ann HOCKER, with her 3 kids (her husband Christopher died in 1847). I could never locate the Burts or Heckers in the City Directories or 1860 Census. Now I know why! 

I still haven't found a link to the Burt women, but maybe in time.

This Phillips family has been quite a ride! (Read my last 2 posts for more background.) I've located and talked to 2 other cousins that share the Hopkins/Phillips family with me. Both are granddaughters of sisters of my great-grandmother Pauline Phillips Hopkins (married to James S. Caterson, Jr.). We are planning a spring get together.

One sent me this delightful photo of her grandmother Maggie Hopkins and her husband William Taylor ca 1915. We are not sure who the older woman is, but with the familiar way in which Maggie is leaning on her, my money is on it being her mother, Pauline Phillips who married Melvin Hopkins. She is my great-great grandmother.


  1. If you're interested in more family information on the Hockers, just let me know. Christopher Mason Hocker was my 2nd cousin, 6 times removed. ~Kris Hocker

    1. Thanks Kris! I'm definitely interested in descendants of him & Mary Ann. Have you done DNA yet?

  2. I am working on Phillips from Boston back to Nova Scotia to England. I have two matches who both share this Thomas Walford Phillips who was a British officer in India. So I found his parents in England. I am positive this is our Phillips line as there is no other way I would match people in South Africa and India. Gedmatch A460850, A513939, A012273, A832713. There is a branch of Phillips descendants whose Mom died when they were young circa 1910s, they moved with their Dad back to Nova Scotia or Maine. Heidihaines60@

    1. Hi Heidi, I got a 7 cM match on Ch22 with your test #A832713 only. Thanks for writing & good luck!

  3. Hi Peggy, I stumbled upon your blog while searching for a relative. We are a distant DNA match (6.9cm, 1 segment) on Ancestry (GEDmatch has it at 9.9cm, 1 segment on Chr 20) and we're both descendants of Charles & Jane Cain. I think that makes us 5th or 6th cousins :)